Thoughts on “Gifted Hands” the Ben Carson Story

I recently read Ben Carson’s autobiography and was very inspired by many of the experiences he shared.

Anger Removed

When Ben was in ninth grade he had a horrible, angry temper. One day while he and a friend were listening to a transistor radio, his friend changed the station, Ben became enraged and pulled a camping knife from his pocket that he always carried. He lunged at his friend. Only the buckle of his friend’s belt kept him from being stabbed in the stomach. Ben went weak at the realization of what had almost happened. He had almost killed his friend because of his temper! He went home, locked himself in the bathroom, cried, begged, and prayed to God with all the energy of his soul that he would remove his anger. And God did. From that day on Ben never had another angry outburst.

Making It Personal

One morning, while getting ready for the day, I recalled this experience Ben had had. I had the thought that I too should ask God to remove a troubling aspect of my personality. I knelt, I prayed, I asked God to remove it. I told him that if it was to be “a thorn in my flesh” that I would endure it, but if not would He please remove it from me. I was overcome with a very physical sensation, a tingling down the left side of my body—like someone poured peppermint oil over my head and it ran down my insides. The sensation stayed with me for over ten minutes. After that, whenever the opportunity for the troublesome trait would arise, I found myself—instead of instantly defaulting to my previous tendency—able to pause and decide about how I wanted to react. There was no longer an instant reaction.   I came to understand that when we want to overcome a weakness, and we ask in sincerity for God’s help, He doesn’t remove the weakness, rather He endows us with a spiritual gift of power to overcome the weakness. He gives us strength.

God Provides Literal Answers

When Ben was at the end of his first semester at Yale he was failing chemistry class. He realized that he had never learned to study properly. Finals were imminent and he knew he would not pass. If he didn’t pass he wouldn’t be able to go on to medical school and become a doctor, which is what he had wanted to do since he was eight-years-old. His professor had said that a good grade on the final exam would replace poor semester work and provide a passing grade. He tried to memorize formulas, but to no avail. Exhausted from cramming with no success, Ben plead with the Lord for a miracle and went to bed. That night he had a dream that he was in the chemistry lecture hall. A nebulous figure walked in and started writing chemistry problems on the board, he copied them all down. When he awoke he wrote down everything he could remember. Assuming that his mind was just processing the fact that he had studied all evening, he went to the exam. The professor came in and handed out the test booklets. To his amazement the problems from his dream were the problems on the test. After the test he was elated and walked around campus marveling at what had happened. He said, “ The only explanation [for it] was humbling in its simplicity. For whatever reason, the God of the universe, the God who holds galaxies in His hands, had seen a reason to reach down to a campus room on Planet Earth and send a dream to a discouraged ghetto kid who wanted to become a doctor.” From that point on Ben worked as hard as he could. God sees each one of us.


Classical Music Get Him the Job

When Ben was young he secretly wanted to be on a game show called College Bowl. It was a show that tested academic knowledge. One of the ways he prepared in his youth for this goal was to learn as much as he could about classical music. It became a personal interest of his that he became quite knowledgeable about. College Bowl went off the air before he ever got his shot and sometimes he wondered why he had wasted so much time learning random things. However, when applying for residency at John Hopkins there were only 2 spaces and 125 applicants. During his interview he prayed that God would help him give the right answers. At some point, the Dr. conducting the interview inadvertently mentioned a classical music concert he had attended the night before. Ben had also attended. They chatted about their opinion on the performance and had a lengthy discussion on classical music. Ben got the job. Later he felt that that conversation had played a significant role in his getting hired. Follow random promptings to learn.


“I had come to the conclusion years earlier that the Lord would never get me into anything He couldn’t get me out of, so I wasn’t going to spend an excessive amount of time worrying.”

“When people know their capabilities, and they know their material (job), it doesn’t matter who opposes them. Regardless of the reputation of the critics or their popularity, power, or how much they think they know, their opinions become irrelevant.”

Other Thoughts

Ben was also very careful about media appearances. He always made sure he knew why and for what purpose he would be on a particular show. He turned a lot of them down.